The scientific method is applicable in many different academic studies, and the hypothesis is an integral part of that process, useful in forming and testing solutions to problems. After stating the query, the researcher makes observations and accumulates information before formulating a hypothesis, a statement of the problem that must either be proved or disproved by experimentation. If testing upholds the hypothesis, the researcher can develop a theory supported by the evidence about how or why the solution to the question works.
A hypothesis is a statement assumed to be true. The researcher cannot prove that any hypothesis is true, but can only prove that it is false by presenting evidence to the contrary. A hypothesis proposes the reason for the observation of an event. It must be an informed judgment that is debatable or open for discussion of its pros and cons. This educated guess must also be based on the information gathered through research, experimentation and observation and supported by that evidence in the form of facts, statistics or specific information.
The researcher should first consider what the possible causes for the observation might be, and if these causes could reliably and consistently predict the same outcome, each time the event happens. She should also consider any other less obvious factors that might possibly result in a similar situation. The next step is to design an experiment to test the hypothesis. She sets up a testing procedure and identifies two different groups for the experiment. The groups are a testing group and a control group. The control group does not experience the testing variable and functions as the basis of comparison against which the testing group will be evaluated. Always change only one variable in each experiment to maximize and isolate the resulting effects.
The researcher then repeats the test as often as necessary to verify the results, taking care to record accurate measurements. It is important that beliefs and bias do not influence the conclusions. The equipment and conditions must be exactly the same for both the experimental and the control groups, with only an alteration of the one variable being tested. Note any problems, new ideas or things that might be changed under further experimentation. Summarize the results using graphs and tables to compare and contrast the data. Finally determine if the experimental results support the original hypothesis. The research is still valuable even if it did not support the hypothesis, for the researcher obtained additional information by eliminating options as a result of the experimentation. New research always builds on data gained from previous research experiments.
The Null Hypothesis
By definition, the null hypothesis is an alternative hypothesis to the one under investigation. The null hypothesis is the one that the researchers attempt to prove invalid or simply reject. If the researcher rejects the null hypothesis without proposing an alternative hypothesis, the experiment is meaningless. However, if the researcher accepts the null hypothesis, it does not mean that it is true. It must still be tested as a valid hypothesis and this does not mean that the experiment failed. Any failure of an experiment should only be attributed to errors in the experimental design or the initial assumptions. Even if the null hypothesis prevails, science has gained new knowledge and this is a successful result.
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